The following alert is directed to organizations with a presence in the UK or who anticipate the need to place talent at a UK work site.

Seyfarth Shaw’s Global Mobility Practice hosts attorneys licensed to practice in the UK, Canada, Ireland and Germany. The group has the capability to assist clients with obtaining work and residence visas for over 70 jurisdictions around the world. If we can assist you in placing talent, please call your Seyfarth attorney. We will be happy to help you.

Seyfarth Synopsis: Following the EU summit last week, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU has been delayed until October 31, 2019 at the latest. This date may change if the UK parliament ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement sooner. The UK will remain a full member of the EU during the ongoing negotiations. The immigration rights of EU citizens in the UK, and British nationals in Europe, will remain unchanged during this time until a new Brexit date is set.

EU Council Grants Extension

Following the failure of the UK Parliament to achieve consensus on the Brexit process, the British Prime Minister Theresa May requested a further extension to the negotiating period. At the European Council emergency summit last week, the EU granted an extension until October 31, 2019.

If the UK parliament ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement sooner, then the UK would exit the EU on the first day of the following month. As a condition of the extension, the UK must take part in European parliamentary elections in May. Failure to do so could result in a no-deal exit in June.

The EU reiterated that they will not re-open negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement. Therefore, the discussions are likely to focus on the ‘political declaration’ portion of the Brexit deal, which sets out the future relations between the UK and the EU. Given the ongoing uncertainty, many options including revocation of Article 50, a second referendum or a no-deal situation, are still possible.

UK immigration: What is the impact?

As the UK continues to remain a full member of the EU, the immigration rights of EU citizens in the UK, and British nationals in the EU, have not changed. Citizens will continue to hold freedom of movement rights until the UK fully exits the EU.

The European Settlement Scheme, which has been running in a pilot phase for several months, became fully operational on March 30, 2019. The UK government confirmed that this scheme remains open, despite the extension of the Brexit negotiations. There is no fee for EU citizens making an application under this scheme.

EU citizens in the UK are recommended to apply under this scheme now, as compulsory registration will take place if and when the UK does leave the EU. Employers and affected individuals should also bear in mind that although the Brexit extension has been moved to October 31, 2019, it could be brought forward if the UK government and the EU reach an agreement before then.

We will continue to monitor and report on developments in relation to Brexit as events unfold.